Wednesday, September 02, 2009

U.S. Helsinki Commission: listserv discussion; discrediting discussants

I'm trying to get through a pedantic part of my thesis, which is boring me and delaying everything from article drafting to blogging (to itself, as I procrastinate).

Anyway, during a will-breaking listserv discussion on a U.S. Helsinki Commission report, someone(s) searched (without success) for sinister evidence discrediting me. (I cannot know whether they were discussants or invisible readers.)(1) They looked for links between my university - and, worse, my supervisors - and the Turkish Cypriot administration of northern Cyprus.

The listserv discussion was about the U.S. Helsinki Commission report on the destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage in northern Cyprus since 1974. Someone else publicised the report, I warned it was biased and inaccurate, then the discussion descended until I withdrew. (I talked it over with friends and colleagues and we agreed: resistance is futile.)

During the first week of the two-week discussion, someone in the U.S. searched for 'TRNC Sussex University' and '[one supervisor's name] Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (figs. 1 and 2); someone else in the U.K. searched for '[one supervisor's name] Turkish Republic Northern Cyprus' (fig. 3).

(My supervisors' names and supervision are public (hence the hits), but I will not state them here, as I do not want to happen to them what has happened to me.)

Fig. 1: 'TRNC Sussex University' Google search and research blog hit, 1.37pm, 31st July 2009, near Wichita city, Kansas state, USA

Fig. 2: 'J... C... Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' Google search and research blog hit, 7.19pm, 31st July 2009, near Wichita city, Kansas state, USA

Fig. 3: 'J... C... Turkish Republic Northern Cyprus' Google search and research blog hit, 7.34pm, 2nd August 2009, near Maidstone town, Kent county, UK

Thankfully, the search results seem quite sensitive to wording, so the first page of results for searches for 'Sam Hardy genocide denial' and even 'Sam Hardy genocide denial Cyprus' include my fieldwork notes before a visit to an Armenian Genocide mass grave in Turkey, and my signature of a petition to recognise the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Nonetheless, searches for 'Sam Hardy denialist', 'Sam Hardy denialist Cyprus', 'Sam Hardy genocidal denialist Cyprus', etc. include listserv discussion accusations against me.

(Those searches did also present either my defences, or my blog posts, or political scientist Simon Maghakyan's link to my documentation of the destroyed Armenian Genocide mass grave, and so on.)

I have been accused of being relativist, denying genocide, diminishing genocide (which is anyway offensive and still 'soft core denial'), even encouraging genocide, as well as opportunistic or ideological allegiance with the Turkish nationalist lobby.

Not only are there any results at all for '"Sam Hardy" Turkish mercenary', but false accusations against me are the second hit. (Mercifully, my defences are the first.)

So, although whoever evidently failed in their futile attempt to discredit me, the listserv discussants' offensive, false accusations are now public and any naive member of the public may be tragically misled.
  1. I cannot even be certain the searches were related to the listserv discussion, as people could have searched for these terms but not visited my research blog.

    Nevertheless, it would be a highly improbable coincidence that (presumably) different people in different countries searched for these terms and visited my research blog for the first time in more than five years - and 35,000 website hits - during the two-week listserv discussion.

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